The Pentagon returned nearly $128 billion in unused funds to the Treasury Department between fiscal years 2009 and 2019, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The department accounted for nearly half of all cancelled appropriations across the federal government during that period, according to the report.

Aerial of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington DC, with I-395 freeway on the left, and the Air Force Memorial up middle.

A provision in the FY ‘20 NDAA mandated that GAO assess the level of unused funds across all agencies, not only DoD, finding that about 1.6 percent of the total available budget was cancelled during the 10-year period, including an average of $23.9 billion per year.

The Army’s Operation and Maintenance portfolio accounted for 26 percent of DoD’s unused funds during that stretch of time, the most for any specific funding area.

“Officials from the Army told us that changes to Overseas Contingency Operations—especially to troop levels that the president directs after appropriations levels have been decided— contributed to the level of cancellations from this account,” GAO officials noted in the report.

Of the $7.2 trillion the Pentagon received during the 10-year period, the department had a cancellation rate of 1.8 percent, which was behind five other agencies to include the Department of Energy at 6.7 percent and the Department of Agriculture at 4.2 percent. 

Efforts to reduce the level of unused funds and plans for bringing down the cancellation rate are likely to come up in hearings as the FY ‘22 budget is rolled out, with lawmakers pressing Pentagon officials on cost saving measures in the face of a tighter spending environment